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Disneyland Resort Offers Free Coronavirus Testing To Cast Members

ANAHEIM, CA —They’re the people we see walking into Downtown Disney, the ones taking temperatures, reminding you to put on your mask or socially distance amid the coronavirus slow reopening of Disneyland Resort. Now, Disneyland is showing how they are protecting their workers by offering more testing.

On Friday, the theme park shared a new offering for cast members: a free and accessible method to test for coronavirus, a spokesperson for the park tells Patch.

Starting Oct. 26, through a partnership with Quest Labs, employees can request a coronavirus test from their own homes.

The program, increasing options for testing, is all part of the Disneyland Resort’s comprehensive approach to health and safety measures, according to Dr. Pamela Hymel, Chief Medical Officer for Disney Parks, Experiences and Products.

One week ago, the Walt Disney Co. alerted workers that 28,000 of their ranks would be laid off across the country due to the ongoing coronavirus shutdown. Though Orange County and the Disneyland Resort have attempted to work with Gov. Gavin Newsom to formulate a reopening guideline, those plans were tabled by Newsom’s office. Still, employees who work behind the scenes, at Downtown Disney, in offices, and remotely from home, all who remain employed can participate in this program, should they need to be tested.

“We have taken a robust science-based approach to responsibly reopening our parks and resorts across the globe,” Hymel wrote in a prepared statement. “Our comprehensive approach emphasizes a combination of health and safety measures to help reduce risk, and with that in mind, we have finalized a plan for all working cast members of the Disneyland Resort to have access to free, easily accessible testing options.”

See also:

Disneyland Resort Final Walt Disney Co. Property To Reopen

Disneyland Resort Reopening Guidelines Back To Drawing Board

28,000 Employees Laid Off At Disneyland, Walt Disney World

This article originally appeared on the Mission Viejo Patch

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With athletes trained in resilience, Special Olympics helps members maintain mental and physical fitness through virtual events

Michael Heup, a Special Olympics athlete who has become a leading advocate for people with disabilities, took a deep breath as the torch approached. Heup, who started his Special Olympics career in 2001, has previously competed in soccer, basketball, tennis, snowshoe and other events.

“It’s disappointing that we can’t have large-scale events and gatherings, but we are excited to be back doing what we love,” he said. “Sports!”

His teammate behind him threw his fist in the air.

The small gathering stood in stark contrast to the boisterous crowd of thousands of athletes and law enforcement officials who have rallied around the torch lighting each year.

For 50 years, Special Olympics Maryland has fostered community for thousands of people with disabilities. Weekly trainings and annual tournaments have provided opportunities for connection and purpose, inspiring confidence among people historically subjected to social ostracism.

But when the pandemic took hold in March, Special Olympics Maryland, among other chapters nationwide, was forced to cancel practices, basketball tournaments, kayaking championships and its Summer Games.

A spring and summer void of sporting events could have been catastrophic for the nonprofit and those who rely on it. But instead, it blossomed into a vibrant virtual community buoyed by the signature fortitude of its athletes.

Over the last six months, state chapters of the Special Olympics have launched a series of virtual events that have helped maintain active routines for hundreds of thousands of people with intellectual and physical disabilities. In Maryland, Special Olympics leadership spearheaded weekly online fitness classes. And they launched walk, run and biking challenges, customizing a mobile app to track activity. They have also established online social clubs, including one that throws a virtual dance party every Saturday night.

“What we offer at Special Olympics, it is an essential part of our athletes’ social interaction,” said Jim Schmutz, president and CEO of Special Olympics Maryland. “But what you and I have experienced in the pandemic as it relates to isolation is more close to what our athletes experience historically on a daily basis. So in some cases, our athletes have adapted better than anyone.”

Monique Matthews, a 30-year-old athlete from Baltimore, has been a regular track-and-field competitor with the Special Olympics for eight years. Before the pandemic, she spent many of her days looking forward to Tuesdays and Saturdays, when she would meet with her friends to hone her running skills.

While she noticed people around her mourn the loss of their routines, Matthews simply found new ones online when the public health crisis mandated isolation.

“I just don’t look at it as a pandemic. I look at it as an opportunity to get to know myself better,” she said.

Once shy and afraid to speak her mind, Matthews has taken advantage of the comfortable virtual environment to become a leader among athletes statewide. Over the last six months, she has started leading Zoom sessions about police brutality and teaching online exercise classes that leave fellow athletes sweaty and tired.

“Right now, I

Members resign from Saratoga EDC board

SARATOGA SPRINGS – The controversy over claims the Saratoga Prosperity Partnership’s downloading and sharing of a confidential Saratoga Economic Development Committee Zoom meeting continues with board resignations and an investigation.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Partnership will be briefed on a report by an attorney the group hired to investigate the matter amid SEDC’s accusations that its civil liberties were violated by the distribution of a video of one of its meetings. SEDC is a private nonprofit and its meetings are not open to the public.

The Partnership report follows the departure of four from the SEDC board: Saratoga Hospital President and CEO Angelo Calbone, land-use attorney Matt Jones, Adirondack Trust Executive Vice President Michael O’Connell and Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce President Todd Shimkus.

“It doesn’t have a negative effect,” said SEDC Board Chair John Munter Jr. of the board resignations. “They all left for different reasons. The feeling was that in this fight, there is a lot of varied opinions. They just wanted to step aside in order to let things take their course in a more natural way.”

The departures, as first reported by the Albany Business Review, come during an on-going, years-long squabble between SEDC and the county-funded Partnership. Under a 2019 county plan, the two entities are supposed to be working together. That is the reason, Munter said, SEDC obtained a Zoom license through the Partnership for a discounted rate of $20 a month. At the time, Munter said, it was verbally confirmed that the SEDC meetings would be property of SEDC only.

But SEDC now accuses Partnership President Shelby Schneider, and her executive assistant, Michele Battle, of accessing SEDC’s private Zoom meetings, downloading the recordings and sharing them. SEDC attorney Michael Bilok, in a letter to the Partnership, said that the allegations against Schneider and Battle could rise to a criminal level, including violating the Stored Communication Act and the Defend Trade Secrets Act. In the video, Brobston allegedly insulted some prominent business leaders and elected officials.


“The content of the video is comparable to middle school banter,” Munter said. “There is nothing unlawful or no civil or lawful violations. The video itself is very petty. People were insulted. But SEDC’s civil liberties were violated by obtaining it and our civil liberties were violated when they shared it.”

Munter said this is part of a larger vendetta against SEDC and its president, Dennis Brobston. He explained that six years ago when the county established the Partnership, an effort to overtake SEDC’s economic authority, lead Partnership architect Waterford Supervisor John Lawler said it “wouldn’t be over until Dennis Brobston is out and SEDC is out of business.”

Lawler said on Wednesday that is “a malicious and absolute lie.”

“Why doesn’t (Munter) focus on why his board members resigned,” said Lawler, who himself quit the Partnership board in February 2019 when discussions about merging the two economic entities began.

At that point, the county stripped SEDC of all funding and formed the Partnership, which in the past

Teen spurs coronavirus outbreak, infects 11 family members

A coronavirus outbreak infecting 11 family members, stemming from a 13-year-old girl, recently prompted an investigation by several state health departments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The teen was away from home in June when she was exposed to a large coronavirus outbreak. While she was asymptomatic, a rapid antigen test conducted four days after exposure came back negative, per a new CDC report.

HOW DO I POLITELY ASK SOMEONE TO WEAR A MASK?

A couple of days later, shortly before accompanying her siblings and parents on a large family vacation, the only symptom the young girl developed was nasal congestion.

A total of 14 relatives, ages ranging from 9 to 72, stayed together for up to three weeks in a five-bedroom house, ignoring masks and social distancing. The CDC says 12 of the 14 family members developed symptoms and had either probable, suspected, or confirmed COVID-19 cases. One person was hospitalized while another sought emergency care for respiratory symptoms, though both recovered.

Another six family members visited the house, but stayed outdoors; four later tested negative and two were not tested.

The 13-year-old girl (or “index patient;” the believed source of infection) later tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies.

The CDC theorized her rapid antigen test returned a false-negative result because it was done before she developed symptoms, adding “the only antigen test that had Food and Drug Administration Emergency Use Authorization at the time was intended for use within the first 5 days of symptoms.”

The CDC says to confirm coronavirus test results with a nasal swab test, RT-PCR given its higher sensitivity and therefore accuracy. (iStock)

The CDC says to confirm coronavirus test results with a nasal swab test, RT-PCR given its higher sensitivity and therefore accuracy. (iStock)

OVER 80% OF HOSPITALIZED CORONAVIRUS PATIENTS EXPERIENCE NEUROLOGICAL SYMPTOMS, STUDY FINDS

The event emphasizes multiple issues, the CDC wrote.

“Children and adolescents can serve as the source for COVID-19 outbreaks within families, even when their symptoms are mild,” the CDC said. Additionally, the outbreak offers further evidence for “physical distancing as a mitigation strategy to prevent SARS-CoV-2 transmission.”

Third, since rapid antigen tests are generally less sensitive than nasal swabs/RT-PCR testing, the CDC advises confirming negative rapid results with a swab test. The agency called for 14-day self-quarantine following exposure or travel, even if virus tests return negative.

“Finally, SARS-CoV-2 can spread efficiently during gatherings, especially with prolonged, close contact,” the CDC wrote. (On Monday the agency updated its recommendations to acknowledge the potential for infection from airborne transmission, especially in enclosed places with poor ventilation.)

To prevent infection, the CDC advises physical distancing, mask usage, adequate hand hygiene, and avoiding gatherings where physical distancing and mask use aren’t possible.

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Marines may waive combat fitness tests for service members at risk for coronavirus – U.S.

Marines may waive combat fitness tests for service members at risk for coronavirus


Stars and Stripes is making stories on the coronavirus pandemic available free of charge. See other free reports here. Sign up for our daily coronavirus newsletter here. Please support our journalism with a subscription.


Marine Corps commanders may issue waivers for Marines, or even whole units, for semi-annual combat fitness tests if the testing sites cannot accommodate safety measures to protect against the coronavirus, a spokesman for III Marine Expeditionary Force on Okinawa said Monday.


The Corps is putting mitigating steps in place, such as screening Marines and taking their temperatures before the tests, disinfecting equipment and mandating face masks, said 1st Lt. Pawel Puczko by email to Stars and Stripes. He said Marines who are at a higher risk of contracting the coronavirus or share quarters with someone who is at a higher risk may apply for waivers.


In April, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger ordered a halt to all fitness testing due to the coronavirus. Last month, the Corps announced it will resume its physical fitness and combat fitness tests despite the ongoing pandemic.


Marines will have until the end of December to complete both tests, according to a Sept. 21 memo.


Individual waivers will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, Puczko said.


“The health and safety of our Marines is always a top priority,” he said. “Commands across III MEF have demonstrated their dedication to keeping Marines and families safe from COVID-19 through diligent planning and implementation of safety protocols.”


The allowance for commanders to issue both combat fitness test and physical fitness test waivers will extend across the Marine Corps, according to a Marine administrative order.


COVID-19 is the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.


Social distancing may prove difficult during the combat fitness test, in which one event requires Marines to drag and carry each other to simulate maneuver under fire, according to the official Marine Corps website.


The Air Force in September postponed its physical fitness assessments until January 2021. Body composition measurements — waist, height and weight — are postponed until further notice, according to last month’s announcement.


All airmen will receive maximum points for the so-called “abdominal circumference” component as part of their official score, including those with exemptions to that waist measurement, the statement said.


“We know people are staying fit regardless, but we want to give our Airmen enough time to prepare,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. said in the statement.


The Navy also postponed sailors’ physical fitness tests until further notice in an administrative message in July.


“Although the Navy PFA Cycle 2, 2020 has been excused, Sailors are reminded to make good choices for a healthy diet and are to continue a level of fitness to maintain Navy physical fitness standards,” the message said.


Thursday, the Army adopted its long-planned, six-event physical fitness

Marines may waive combat fitness tests for service members at risk for coronavirus – Pacific

Marines may waive combat fitness tests for service members at risk for coronavirus


Stars and Stripes is making stories on the coronavirus pandemic available free of charge. See other free reports here. Sign up for our daily coronavirus newsletter here. Please support our journalism with a subscription.


Marine Corps commanders may issue waivers for Marines, or even whole units, for semi-annual combat fitness tests if the testing sites cannot accommodate safety measures to protect against the coronavirus, a spokesman for III Marine Expeditionary Force on Okinawa said Monday.


The Corps is putting mitigating steps in place, such as screening Marines and taking their temperatures before the tests, disinfecting equipment and mandating face masks, said 1st Lt. Pawel Puczko by email to Stars and Stripes. He said Marines who are at a higher risk of contracting the coronavirus or share quarters with someone who is at a higher risk may apply for waivers.


In April, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger ordered a halt to all fitness testing due to the coronavirus. Last month, the Corps announced it will resume its physical fitness and combat fitness tests despite the ongoing pandemic.


Marines will have until the end of December to complete both tests, according to a Sept. 21 memo.


Individual waivers will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, Puckzo said.


“The health and safety of our Marines is always a top priority,” he said. “Commands across III MEF have demonstrated their dedication to keeping Marines and families safe from COVID-19 through diligent planning and implementation of safety protocols.”


The allowance for commanders to issue both combat fitness test and physical fitness test waivers will extend across the Marine Corps, according to a Marine administrative order.


COVID-19 is the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.


Social distancing may prove difficult during the combat fitness test, in which one event requires Marines to drag and carry each other to simulate maneuver under fire, according to the official Marine Corps website.


The Air Force in September postponed its physical fitness assessments until January 2021. Body composition measurements — waist, height and weight — are postponed until further notice, according to last month’s announcement.


All airmen will receive maximum points for the so-called “abdominal circumference” component as part of their official score, including those with exemptions to that waist measurement, the statement said.


“We know people are staying fit regardless, but we want to give our Airmen enough time to prepare,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. said in the statement.


The Navy also postponed sailors’ physical fitness tests until further notice in an administrative message in July.


“Although the Navy PFA Cycle 2, 2020 has been excused, Sailors are reminded to make good choices for a healthy diet and are to continue a level of fitness to maintain Navy physical fitness standards,” the message said.


Thursday, the Army adopted its long-planned, six-event physical fitness

Trump’s drive outside Walter Reed hospital criticized by Secret Service members, doctors

A growing number of Secret Service agents have been concerned about the president’s seeming indifference to the health risks they face when traveling with him in public, and a few reacted with outrage to the trip, asking how Trump’s desire to be seen outside of his hospital suite justified the jeopardy to agents protecting the president. The president’s coronavirus diagnosis has already brought new scrutiny to his lax approach to social distancing, as public health officials scramble to trace those he may have exposed at large in-person events.

“He’s not even pretending to care now,” said one agent after the president’s jaunt outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

“Where are the adults?” said a former Secret Service member.

They spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of retribution.

White House spokesman Judd Deere defended the outing, telling reporters that “appropriate precautions were taken in the execution of this movement to protect the President and all those supporting it.” Deere said precautions included personal protective equipment, without providing further details, and added that the trip “was cleared by the medical team as safe to do.”

The White House did not immediately respond to questions from The Washington Post on Sunday night.

Trump wore a mask as he waved to a crowd from the back of his vehicle, after announcing that he would “pay a little surprise to some of the great patriots that we have out on the street.” But the face covering was little comfort to doctors, who took to Twitter to criticize the trip as irresponsible. Masks “help, but they are not an impenetrable force field,” tweeted Saad B. Omer, director of the Yale Institute for Global Health.

Among critics was a doctor affiliated with Walter Reed.

“Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary Presidential ‘drive-by’ just now has to be quarantined for 14 days,” tweeted James P. Phillips, who is also a professor at George Washington University. “They might get sick. They may die. For political theater. Commanded by Trump to put their lives at risk for theater. This is insanity.”

Phillips said the risk of viral transmission inside the car is “as high as it gets outside of medical procedures.” Jonathan Reiner, a professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University, noted that people inside a hospital wear extensive protective gear — gowns, gloves, N95 masks and more — when they will be in close contact with a coronavirus patient such as Trump.

“By taking a joy ride outside Walter Reed the president is placing his Secret Service detail at grave risk,” he tweeted.

Trump had been irked that White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows suggested he was not doing well as he fought the virus, according to campaign and White House officials.

“The president’s vitals over the last 24 hours were very concerning, and the next 48 hours will be critical in terms of his care,” Meadows said Saturday afternoon, in sharp contrast to doctors who offered rosy

A Texas family lost four members to Covid-19. Now they want to save others from heartbreak.

The coronavirus had already killed Nieves Salas Solis’ mother and brother when he called his daughter from a hospital bed with a chilling message: “I’m next.”

Nieves, 62, who grew up in Dallas and in recent years lived in a Mexican border town doing community outreach, had a high fever and shortness of breath. It was mid-August, and he had managed to drive himself to a hospital in Harlingen, Texas, where doctors confirmed that he had Covid-19. But their efforts to clear his lungs were not working, said his daughter, Ana Alonso.

Ana knew her father was grieving his mother, Eva Solis-Salas, 89, who died Aug. 6, and a brother, Ruperto Salas Solis, 67, who died Aug. 10, after their own brief battles with the coronavirus.

IMAGE: Ana Alonso and Eva Solis-Salas (Ana Alonso)
IMAGE: Ana Alonso and Eva Solis-Salas (Ana Alonso)

But the thought of losing him, too, was unimaginable. Nieves was a “health freak” who ran up to 5 miles a day and had no underlying medical conditions, Ana said. Decades earlier, he had nearly become a professional boxer, turning down the opportunity only because Eva — a single mother to Nieves and nine other children — was afraid he would get hurt.

From her home in Mesquite, Texas, Ana begged her father to stay upbeat.

“You still have to fight,” she said she told him over FaceTime. “I said, ‘What do you have to say?’ And my dad put his hand up, and he flipped off the camera, and he said, ‘This is what I have to say to Covid.’ He kept saying, ‘F— Covid!'”

Nieves was always joking around, Ana said, and seeing his sense of humor from the hospital gave her hope. But his condition worsened, and on Aug. 22, he succumbed to the illness.

The Salas Solis family had now lost their matriarch and two of her sons. But their heartbreak was not over: On Sept. 15, another son, Raul Salas Solis, 64, also died of Covid-19 after having been hospitalized for more than a month.

The four deaths in less than six weeks, reported Tuesday by the Dallas Observer, shattered the close-knit family, which includes Eva’s approximately 32 grandchildren, 59 great-grandchildren and 13 great-great-grandchildren. One of Eva’s grandchildren, Jahaziel Salas, also experienced another loss from the disease: His father-in-law, Alfredo Nava, died of Covid-19 earlier in the summer.

“It’s been very, very tragic for our family, and I honestly still think that we haven’t fully processed everything,” said Ana, 40, who co-teaches seventh grade. “Somehow, it needs to be turned into awareness.”

That is what their late relatives would have wanted, Ana said. Helping others was in their blood: About five years ago, her father moved from Texas back to his birthplace, Valle Hermoso, Tamaulipas, Mexico, retiring from work as a warehouse manager to dedicate himself to helping families in need of medical care and education.

Nieves lived next door to his mother in Valle Hermoso, while another son, Ruperto, lived with their mother. A third son, Raul, ran

Gym members demand refunds after Fitness World rebrands, reopens some Steve Nash clubs

Frustrated fitness buffs are taking their gym to the mat, arguing B.C.-based Fitness World owes them a refund after their contracts were reassigned to new locations.

“They didn’t let us choose to stay with them,” said Fitness World member Cortez D’Alessandro, 20. “They just told us what’s happening.”

In March, the company — formerly known as Steve Nash Fitness World — shuttered all 24 of its locations, and terminated its staff, citing difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Insolvency proceedings followed until June when Chris Smith, the CEO of both the new and old companies, worked with a group of investors to purchase the hard-hit fitness brand. Its new name is a throwback to the Fitness World chain of gyms that the Steve Nash organization purchased in 2009 to increase its reach. 

By July, members learned what it meant for their workouts. In an email, the company told patrons that their membership would be transferred over to Fitness World. The company’s footprint, however, had been reduced, with only 15 of the original 24 locations open. Further complicating matters, the company said it would cancel contracts, but only if clients visited a club in person.

“The biggest reason I was there, [was] because it was close by,” said D’Alessandro, whose Lougheed Highway location was among those permanently closed.

In a statement, Fitness World apologized to members, and said it has been doing its best to address concerns and “create a clear process” to meet their needs in a timely manner. The company also says members can call their preferred club to cancel with a manager, an option that wasn’t presented in previous member updates.

Fight for refunds

Whether members qualify for refunds, though, remains unclear.

Charlotte D’Alessandro, 50, has paid for Cortez’s gym membership since high school. She says she’s spent over a month trying to get her money back from Fitness World, including two charges from the company on the same day.

Steve Nash Sports Club signage can still be seen at Park Royal in North Vancouver. The business entered insolvency proceedings in April 2020 and has since been rebranded as Fitness World. (Christian Amundson/CBC)

“I’m not paying for something I didn’t agree to pay for,” said the mother, who says she visited three Fitness World locations, only to be told staff couldn’t rectify the situation.

“I don’t think we should be automatically new members of this new business,” she said “It’s very frustrating.”

Online outcry

That sense of frustration has sparked online outcry as well. A Change.org petition outlining members issues with Fitness World has captured more than 400 signatures.

Kiu Fazlali started a Change.org petition after Fitness World moved him to a cheaper location and failed to change his membership fees. (Christian Amundson/CBC)

“There’s no customer service,” said petition founder and former Fitness World member Kiu Fazlali, 20.

“They like to enforce their contracts but they don’t like to work with customers.”

Fazlali says his contract was moved from the company’s premium Park Royal location to the cheaper